Now, it's finally dying.
"There's really no value to leaving it up anymore, because it's going downhill so quickly," Mike Palmer, the horticulture manager at the garden told the Associated Press. Palmer added that the Matthaei staff plans to chop down the plant next month.
In its prime however, the plant was triumphant.
Since 1934, when this particular plant arrived at Matthaei Botanical Gardens from Mexico, it's been relatively slow going. Basically nothing unusual happened until last year, when it became clear that the decades-long wait for the plant's bloom would finally be over.
What makes this agave's 80-year life span so unusual is that in nature, American agave plants usually flower after about 10 to 25 years, according to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
Why the plant flowers when it does is just another of nature's many mysteries.
"No one knows for sure what combination of environmental conditions induces flowering," Palmer said. "And it's rare for one to bloom indoors. Of course, being in a conservatory helps!"
The good news is, the dying plant will live on through its offspring. But in another twist, this agave did not actually produce seeds that were expected to be clones of the original, Palmer told the AP:
Instead, they'll use the seeds from the pods to create a new agave where it now stands, although the new agave will "be slightly different," said Palmer, who cared for the plant during the past 15 years."It was a good run," he said.
A native of the Southwestern United States and Mexico, the American agave has evolved to survive in pretty harsh, low-water environments. So the plants produce hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds, giving them the best chance that a few might actually survive.
This agave's seeds are already being planted -- although by the time they bloom, it'll perhaps be something for your (great) grandchildren to see.
More good news about this unusual plant: It can also be used to make booze -- though not tequila, which, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens notes, is only made from tequila agave.
In areas of Mexico where tequila is produced, the American agave is used to make a similar alcoholic drink called mezcal. The flower stalk of the American agave can be cut before flowering to produce aguamiel, a sweet liquid collected at the base of the stalk. This liquid can be fermented to make a drink called pulque. Additionally, fibers gathered from within the leaves are used for making rope or twine.